1960: Shabtai Rosenne

Welcome to 70 Faces of Israel. To celebrate 70 years since the establishment of the State of Israel, we’re looking at 70 people whose remarkable stories have changed our country and the world.


Name: Shabtai Rosenne

Date of Birth: 24th November 1917, London, England

Date of Death: 21st September 2010, Jerusalem, Israel

Claim to Fame: World-Renowned Professor of International Law

In 1960… Rosenne received the Israel Prize for jurisprudence




Shabtai Rosenne

Shabtai Rosenne (source: theguardian.com/Dan Balilty)

London-born Shabtai Rosenne was an award-winning lawyer who practiced law for more than 60 years. He studied law at the University of London and graduated with an LL.B in naval law in 1938. Rosenne served in the Royal Air Force from 1940 – 1946. Following his British army service, he worked for the Jewish Agency both in London and Jerusalem for two years. Rosenne received his PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Shabtai Rosenne had a diplomatic career that spanned across six decades. He served on the Legal Secretariat of the Situation Committee. This committee created the legal and administrative backbone for the new State of Israel.


After the Declaration of Independence, Rosenne joined the Foreign Ministry. He served as Israel’s representative to the United Nations in both New York and Geneva. Rosenne also chaired the UN Conference on naval and maritime law. He also acted as legal adviser to Serbia, and was a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. In 2010, Rosenne contributed to the Turkel Commission investigating the Gaza flotilla raid.


Rosenne’s teaching credentials were, if possible, even more impressive than his diplomatic ones. On top of his tenure at Bar Ilan University, he also taught at the universities of Cambridge, Utrecht, Amsterdam, and Virginia, as well as the Rhodes Oceans Academy in Greece. Additionally, Rosenne taught maritime law at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich.


The Legacy of Shabtai Rosenne


Rosenne received numerous awards for his many outstanding contributions to international law. He was awarded the Israel Prize, Sharett Prize, and the Hudson Medal and Hague Prize for International Law.


Above all, Shabtai Rosenne championed justice. His encyclopaedic knowledge of international law saw his unmatched influence shape modern policy in Israel and the world. His numerous written legal works were widely published and well received. Shabtai died of a heart attack at 92 years of age. He was survived by his wife Esther and their two sons.


Previously: 1959: Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog 

Up next: 1961: Moshe Landau